[Purpose] The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of increased visual dependence to age, balance, attention, and vertigo. [Subjects and Methods] Twelve younger, 12 visually independent (VI) older and 12 visually dependent (VD) older adults were assessed for levels of visual dependence using Subjective Visual Vertical (SVV) tilt values, balance ability using the Clinical Test of Sensory Integration for Balance (CTSIB), and attentional requirements through the dual-task paradigm and experience of vertigo by completing the Situational Vertigo Questionnaire (SVQ). [Results] VD older adults had higher SVV tilt values, greater postural sway in a scenario where visual and proprioceptive inputs were simultaneously altered, similar dual-task cost and lower SVQ scores compared with younger and VI older adults. No difference was observed between the latter two. [Conclusion] Visual dependence may not necessarily increase with age but affect balance in a sensory condition involving visual-proprioceptive conflict. There is a non-significant trend for elevated visual dependence with increased attentional demands. Greater visual dependence is not accompanied by more frequent symptoms of vertigo in visually complex environments.
2017 by the Society of Physical Therapy Science. Published by IPEC Inc.